Monday, March 10, 2008
Yes, I know I have been neglecting my duties so much that it's almost become a one-man show for Nicholas now. But in my defense 1) my course is heavy and 2) I read comics more these days. Sue me. But hey, I still read. Not as little as you think, though. I shall have nice reviews for Fell, Hard Boiled Wonderland, Outcast (from Chronicles of Ancient Darkness), Zoe Heller's Everything You Know and a good deal of others up during Easter.
But in the meantime, for those of you who read Fantasy, you guys just HAVE TO HAVE TO HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK. It's recommended by George R.R. Martin? Y'know? That cool guy who did a Game of Thrones? Agh. Anyway, this novels falls under the 'Fantasy but we don't get caught up with dragons and one rings too much' category. Yeah, Fantasy can be pretty much summed up into three categories for me:
1)Magical hoo-hah all the way (LOTR, Terry Brooks, Eddings, all fall here)
2)Less magical hoo-hah, more political intrigue/plot events and drama (Game of Thrones, Robin Hobb's Farseers and Lamorra fall here)
3)Attempt (mostly, though sometimes successful) at a more deep, underlying meaning. HDM is pretty much the only thing I can put here.
So yeah, Lamorra falls under the 2nd category. It's about conmen, living in a Venice-like city called Camorr, which is divided by upper class nobles and commoners as most fantasy (And non-fantasy) places are. But the bandits here are their own people. Ruled by a Capa, the gangs own territories, all united under a common 'Secret Peace' which dictates that as long as the thieves don't touch what belongs to the nobles, the yellowjackets (city guards) don't go after them unless they get careless and caught in broad daylight.
Locke Lamorra is the 'garrista' (head) of his own gang of thieves. And while he holds fealty to the Capa and pretends to be another one of those common pickpocket gangs, in truth he is, as his mentor Chains puts it 'a fucking ballista bolt through the heart of the Secret Peace'. He goes purely after the nobles, constructing elaborate cons to take money from them. The nobles are usually too proud to admit themselves having being cheated, and even if they tried, they normally don't get a glimpse of his real face anyway.
And so they create a mythical figure, the 'Thorn of Camorr', who is supposedly a master thief who can walk through walls, is a master swordsman and is large and powerful. So everytime the nobles get hit, they blame 'The Thorn', to not make it seem so humiliating.
Of course, in real life, Locke is barely competent with a sword, and really, really can't walk through walls. All he has are wits, and a good band of people on his side. All specializing on different tasks.
The city of Camorr is richly described. Yet done in proper amounts bit by bit so as not to give you a geographic lecture. The city and the people who inhabit come alive, so do their cultures, traditions and Gods in the words of the book. The author's method of interweaving interludes to give us brief glimpses into Locke's past make the story richer, the main characters more endearing.
The first part of the book mostly shows us just how damn good Locke is. Then the second part turns it around almost immediately and you find out where the bulk of the story is. A man calling himself 'The Grey King' has been killing off garristas close to the Capa. Whoever the person is, he is definitely making for the throne of the Capa, and Locke gets involved in it when the Grey King hires him to act as him for one night, when the first open confrontation takes place. Well 'hires' is a strong word. He happens to have evidence of Locke's dealings, and so if Locke doesn't comply, the Capa would find out that someone hasn't been a nice little garrista and obeying the Secret Peace, and well, things would get complicated.
To me, one of the reasons why the book is so good is because of the wealthy amount of backstory. The forming of Locke's 'Gentleman Bastards' makes us close not to just Locke, but everyone else. The Sanza twins, who are for all intents and purposes, older versions of Fred and George. Jean Tannen, the brawler in the group who used to be the fat orphan of business running parents. And then there's the elusive Sabetha who never appears and speaks in the book. Not even in the flashbacks. She is mentioned a lot, however. Apparently something happened between her and Locke, and she's now thousands of miles away from Camorr. We never find out what happened to her exactly by the end of the book, but it's definitely something I'll be looking forward to in the sequel.
I give this book a healthy 8 out of 10.
at 7:51 AM